Redshirt pays off for Jackson

Jesse Jackson is still awaiting his first opportunity to play in a live game for the Bulldogs. (Logan Lowery/ Daily Journal)

Jesse Jackson is still awaiting his first opportunity to play in a live game for the Bulldogs. (Logan Lowery/ Daily Journal)

Many of Mississippi State’s redshirt freshmen got their first taste of playing in front of fans at Davis Wade Stadium during the annual spring game in April.

Jesse Jackson wasn’t one of them.

The wide receiver from Petal sustained a hamstring injury just three practices prior to the spring scrimmage and was held out of action.

The missed opportunity has Jackson anxiously awaiting his opportunity to step onto the field and contribute in a live game.

“I still haven’t gotten that feeling yet,” Jackson said. “It’s a big thing to be on the next stage and experience some of that feeling. I haven’t gotten that yet but I know when the time comes I’ll rise to the occasion and accept that challenge.”

It is not the first brush with injury that Jackson has had to overcome during his career. The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder missed the final five games of his senior season with a torn ACL, which also kept him from participating in both the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game and the Under Armor All-American game.

“The thing that aggravates me the most is not staying healthy,” he said. “That’s always an element that’s weighing against you. The best thing I can do is to stay in treatment.”

Before the injury, the former four-star prospect caught 22 passes for 332 yards and three touchdowns.

Jackson was able to rehab his knee back to full strength last year during his redshirt season. Redshirting also allowed him to learn the playbook and adapt to the speed of the Southeastern Conference.

“I’d say that was probably the best thing I’ve done so far,” Jackson said. “I highly advise it. I don’t look down on the redshirt year like I wasn’t ready. I looked at it as a way to grow and get better at my game before I get out there and make a fool out of my team or my family.”

Even something that is often taken for granted like practice took some adjusting to from the high school level.

“Practice itself is ten times different,” Jackson said. “The tempo is faster than we did in high school and here there are stronger and faster players. You have to be as mentally tough as you are physically tough. It’s a challenge all the way around.”

As one of Mississippi’s top in-state recruits, Jackson had his share of scholarship options from Alabama, Auburn, Missouri, Ole Miss and Southern Miss but is proud of his college choice.

“I haven’t looked back, not even once, since the day I committed here,” Jackson said. “I believe this was the best decision I could make. I love the coaching staff and they’re here to make you better each and every day. It’s all that I could ask for.”

I have covered Mississippi State in some capacity since 2004 and joined the Daily Journal staff in 2013. I enjoy short walks on the beach, performing concerts in my car and watching professional wrestling.

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